Expectations for Hockey Team High After Strong Preseason

The men’s hockey team lost one of the greatest senior classes to ever walk the Shaker halls. They are without Plain Dealer Hockey Player of the Year goaltender Eric Sterin, Mike Bartley, Plain Dealer Coach of the Year, retired after serving the position for nearly 4 decades, and a tumultuous offseason saw the hiring of a new head coach only weeks before the beginning of the season. And yet, the Raiders put up 9 goals in their first two preseason contests of the 2013-14 season. Don’t lose hope for the Raiders too soon.

The team defeated the Strongsville Mustangs 7-1 in the first game of the preseason Sunday. New head coach Jonathan Rice made his debut in the impressive Raider win. Goals were scored by Senior Jack Hanley (3), Junior Jordan Davenport (1), Junior Nathan Christman (1), Junior Hal Tafe (1) and Freshman Adam Slovikovski (1). Despite what some may think, Shaker may be playing a lot of similar games in the upcoming season.

The Raiders also recorded a 2-0 defeat of the Kent Roosevelt Roughriders in the second preseason game. Goals were scored by Senior Emmett Sweeney and Sophomore Matt Milgram.

Sweeney thinks the preseason performances are a good sign of the team’s competitiveness. “As a young offense, we’re already starting to gel. As we showed against Strongsville, when we put up seven goals, we’re playing like a team who’s been together for years. We’re already clicking, and that’s a great sign,” he said.

Having won the OHSAA Division I State Championship last year, expectations are high for the young squad. But due to changes in the format of the leagues, including the formation of a new private school-only conference, the path back to Columbus may be easier than it seems.

St. Edward, St. Ignatius, Padua, Holy Name, Lake Catholic, Walsh Jesuit and University School joined formerly independent Gilmour Academy this offseason to create the Great Lakes League. The clearance of these teams from the Red North Division has opened a lane for the Raiders of which they plan to take full advantage.

Shaker will play the GLL’s Walsh Jesuit in the home opener Nov. 22. The only other home game against a GLL opponent will come Dec. 15 against rival University School. The Raiders defeated US in the district final at Kent State University last season en route to their championship run. A convincing win against the Red North deserter Preppers could build confidence in the young team as they look to match their former success. If the Raiders can play their way through their relatively easier schedule, they could find themselves back in Columbus for the second year in a row.

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